Channeling Morgan

by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 11, 2017

Channeling Morgan

Lewis DeSimone's latest novel, "Channeling Morgan," is a wonderfully engaging, romantic, insightful story about friendship, family ties and career fulfillment, told from the point of view of an aspiring author who habitually becomes deeply involved in the lives of others, thereby neglecting his own personal and professional happiness.

Derick Sweetwater is a single New Yorker in his thirties who makes a living as an accomplished ghostwriter, anonymously penning celebrity biographies. Motivated by his unfinished novel (which is inspired by the works of E. M. Forster), Derick enrolls in a weeklong creative writing workshop in Provincetown, joined by his close friend and fellow writer, Chris.

While the feedback Derick receives from the other workshop participants isn't especially encouraging, sparks fly when he meets Jared, a seasonal resident who also calls Manhattan home. Derick also makes the acquaintance of film star and action hero Clive Morgan, who is in disguise to hide both his identity and his rumored homosexuality.

Speaking of disguises, Derick has mixed feelings when he discovers Jared is a drag performer and is even further conflicted (albeit intrigued) when Clive approaches him to write his coming out, tell-all memoir. Derick agrees to meet with the closeted celebrity in secret, much to the chagrin of his meddling assistant, Greta, especially when he investigates Clive's association with a New Age cult. Meanwhile, friends and family take notice that Derick has become uncharacteristically withdrawn, particularly Jared, who - unlike Derick - isn't one to mince words.

With Derick, DeSimone dutifully crafts not only a likable but a relatable character, challenged by familiar issues of loneliness, career missteps, and low self-esteem. Derick has reached a point in his life where he would have expected to know what he wants to achieve, and while the existential crisis is an often explored premise in literature, there is still something unique to be gleaned from Derick's journey of personal discovery.

The colorful cast also includes Derick's quick-witted, brutally honest sister, Lucy; his somewhat jaded, yet unapologetically direct therapist friend, Brad; and Billy and Bob, an adorable newlywed couple from the Midwest whose seemingly sheltered way of life proves invaluable and inspirational to Derick.

Readers will undoubtedly appreciate Derick's rollicking adventures with Chris at familiar locales in Provincetown and Manhattan, rife with catty conversation, overflowing cocktails and drag queens galore. All the while, Derick's story and his social circle remind us that beneath the pomp and circumstance are genuine, authentic individuals worthy of our attention and empathy.

"Channeling Morgan"

By Lewis DeSimone


Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.